Why it is harder to learn as we grow older

Even though many people postulate that learning is a process that I lifelong, the reverse is the case for most older people. As people leave their youth and enter into the latter part of their lives, it becomes difficult for them to open their minds again. This is due to some reasons which will be examined below.

Curiosity dwindles as people grow older

Younger people such as children, teens, young adults, etc. are more curious than adults; they want to know as much as possible around them. To this end, they ask endless questions and even go ahead to paths they believe will lead them to the answers of those questions. However, this is not the same for older people. They have had enough experiences to know that it is not everything that tickles their fancy is worth pursuing. Some have even developed a personal philosophy of not stepping outside their comfort space, as they believe that much study is a weariness of the soul. Besides, older people tend to direct their energy towards other things they consider more important and easier for them, as they see themselves as too old to learn.

Older people are more concerned with living than learning

As we grow older, we take on more responsibilities. Most times, these responsibilities force us to give up activities we are passionate about. For example, the passion and the agility with which a youth who has no spouse, children or dependents waiting on him is not the same as an older person who has a partner to look after, children to sponsor to college, parents and siblings to take care of, commitments in their various social and religious groups, etc. Older people think money is more important than education; after all, not many things can be executed without money. In most cases, an older person is more open to how to be relieved of their responsibilities than learning a new language or the latest invention in technology. Besides, older people tend to direct their energies towards things that will bring in money for them such as working multiple jobs, starting a business on the side, etc. The few older people who learn are those who are in disciplines such as academics, research institutions and those who deliberately condition their mind and find time to learn no matter what.

Most older people are in an environment that does not encourage learning

It is one thing to be passionate about learning and it is another to be in an environment that inspires learning. One of the reasons why young people find it easier to learn is because they are in an environment of like minds. They are pushed and encouraged by these people to go the extra mile in acquiring knowledge.

For instance, you will feel more encouraged to read if you are in college or in an association where books are discussed than if you are in an environment where everyone is concerned about where the next cent is coming from or about how the daily demands of life are weighing them down. You rarely find a gathering of older people discussing the latest books in town or the latest technological tool. They would rather talk about the current events in town, how the politics of their country affects them, their family problems, the challenges they encounter at work, the dive their finances is taking, etc.

But if older people were in more environments that encouraged and rewarded learning, they would be more open to learning. Fortunately, some older people who understand they must continue to learn now take advantage of online learning platforms. You can read online learning tips to get ideas on how to go about learning online if you wish to improve your knowledge professionally or otherwise.

Most older people think learning stops when schooling stops

As soon as we are born, learning starts for us. We learn how to get people’s attention, we learn how to communicate our feelings, etc. Sooner or later, we are included in the system of formal education. We keep on exploring the world, albeit in a more structured way this time. We proceed to college and choose our various disciplines. As we leave college and settle into adulthood, our responsibilities grow bigger. This is the point where many people believe learning ends. They feel that they do need to learn new things to get rewards or to survive. At this point where learning switches from being mandatory to being optional, most people opt-out. Some do not even realize that they have stopped learning, they believe they are just going with the flow. Older people who want to keep learning must be conscious about it.

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